Draftsman Career Information, Job Duties and Employment Options

Draftsmen, also known as drafters, create drawings and plans that are used in manufacturing and construction. Drafters can be found in a broad range of fields, including architecture, aeronautics, civil engineering and electronics. Becoming a draftsman typically requires training in drafting and CADD procedures.

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Career Information for a Draftsman

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2008 the majority of employment opportunities for draftsmen were in the fields of construction, architecture and engineering (www.bls.gov). Almost a quarter of all drafters were employed in the production of industrial machinery and consumer products.

The 2008 median annual income for drafters was $44,490, according to statistics released by the BLS. In the civil and architectural drafting field, those who specialized in public work systems earned the highest average salary at $56,190, while those who worked in residential construction had the lowest average salary at $44,510.

Job growth for draftsmen often depends upon their field of specialization. The BLS predicted the need for draftsmen in architecture would increase by nine percent between 2008-2018. However, opportunities in manufacturing and electronics were expected to remain stagnant or decrease. Draftsmen with training in computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) were expected to find the most job opportunities during this time.

Job Duties

Generally, a draftsman's main job duty is to create technical drawings based on given specifications and calculations. Draftsmen typically work with professionals in their field, such as scientists, architects and engineers, who provide the product or structure's details. The draftsman incorporates these specifications into drawings and plans that may be used in the manufacture, maintenance or repair of the product or structure.

Often, draftsmen use CADD systems to create, save and view their drawings and plans. Depending on the project, draftsmen may need to use more traditional drafting methods, such as drafting pencils and T-squares, to create their drawings. Besides creating drawings, other duties of a draftsman can include calculating structural strength, assessing building capacity limits and estimating construction costs.

Employment Options

Civil drafting typically consists of producing drawings and maps of specific locations to be used in public works projects, such as highways, water systems and pipelines. Civil draftsmen usually work in conjunction with local officials and civil engineers.

Mechanical drafters create technical drawings that can be used for the assembly of machines and other mechanical equipment. These drawings may be used to install and repair machinery or put together consumer products.

Architectural draftsmen produce blueprints and plans for structural projects. Their drawings can be used in the construction or remodeling of homes, commercial buildings and industrial plants.

Electrical drafting can be used to produce diagrams related to the installation and repair of wiring systems. This type of drafting is used in variety of locations, including homes, buildings and power stations.

Aeronautical drafters create plans that will be used in the manufacturing and maintenance of various aircraft or other propelled objects. These objects can include missiles, satellites and rockets.

Certification

Due to the demanding nature of drafting, some employers prefer draftsmen who have earned professional credentials. The American Design Drafting Association (ADDA) offers certification for many different types of drafters, including apprentice, design, architectural and engineering draftsmen (www.adda.org).

The ADDA's program is open to any individual who is interested in drafting, and it consists of a skills assessment exam. Re-certification is available every three years for drafters who remained professionally employed during that time period.

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